A schoolgirl who took up modelling after she was bullied about her appearance has landed a contract to model clothes for high street giant Marks & Spencer.
Ellie Burton, 14, was persuaded to take up modelling by her mother after a group of cruel school bullies left her with low self-esteem.
The teenager signed up with a local modelling agency and was stunned when she was invited to take part in a casting for Marks & Spencer.
Ellie beat hundreds of other youngsters and impressed judges so much that she was invited to model the department store’s Back To School range.
Her face is now featured on bill boards across the country and Ellie today told how she hopes to make a career as a model.
She said: ”What the bullies said was really hurtful. I had no self-esteem.
”People told me I was pretty enough to be a model with my corkscrew curls but I had no confidence and didn’t believe them.
”My mother persuaded me to try out at our local modelling agency. She said I had nothing to lose but I never expected this to happen.
”There were hundreds of boys and girls at the casting. Some of the girls were amazing looking. It was scary, but I had such a great time.
”The shoot was really hard work. They sent me back and forth for ages as they couldn’t decide which tights I should wear for one photograph.
”I realise that only amazing models can make it big but I am going to try. I want to do really well at school too as I need a back up career.
”Everything got better when I moved school. Now I have a great group of friends and my modelling is really exciting.”
Ellie, who lives with her mother Debbie and step father Stuart Parry, who run a B&B in Cromer, Norfolk, was bullied during the last year of primary school.
The abuse was so bad that she had to move schools and the bullies’ cruel jokes left her unhappy with low self-esteem.
Ellie’s mother Debbie urged her to build up her confidence through modelling and she signed up with Sandra Reynolds’ Norwich and London agency.
She appeared in an advertising campaign for her local shopping centre in Norwich before being invited to try out for Marks & Spencer earlier this year.
Since landing the top contract Ellie is doing well at Aylsham High School, Norfolk, and has managed to put the bullying behind her.
She hopes to follow in the footsteps of M&S models such as Myleene Klass, Lily Cole and Twiggy.
Ellie added: ”My face was on busses for the shopping centre campaign and now there is a huge cardboard cut out of me at Marks & Spencer in London.
”My friends scream with excitement when they see me but then the next day everything goes back to normal. I am very grounded.
”I don’t know what is next for me because modelling can be up and down. I hope someone will want me for another campaign.”